OIG Recommends Civilianizing 292 Police Officer Positions to Save City At Least $6.4 Million Annually

The OIG recommended that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) civilianize 292 positions to save the City an estimated $6.4 to $16.6 million annually.

The report analyzed opportunities to civilianize certain positions in 30 separate CPD units, and found that at least 292 full-time positions of the 370 reviewed could be filled by civilians.

The 30 units reviewed were primarily non-law-enforcement units the OIG deemed likely to contain positions that could be civilianized. This assumption bore out in the analysis, as the OIG uncovered sworn law enforcement officers performing purely administrative tasks such as travel arrangement (Finance Division), data entry (Records Inquiry Section), nursing (Medical Services Section), graphic design (General Support Division), accounting (Bureau of Organized Crime), timekeeping (Office of the First Deputy Superintendent), and grant writing (Research and Development Division).

“Our review revealed that that the City has a variety of options for civilianizing these positions,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “Doing so would not only save the City money, but it would also allow CPD to redeploy these and possibly other sworn officers to other high priority missions. Chicago taxpayers have invested heavily in ensuring that CPD officers receive specialized law enforcement training; using it to arrange travel or handle media requests doesn’t comport with best practices or common sense.”

Based on similar initiatives in other cities, the OIG used a series of questions to determine which positions within the non-enforcement units of CPD should be recommended for civilianization. The OIG asked the following four questions for each position currently filled by a full-duty sworn officer:

1. Does the position require the exercise of law enforcement powers?
2. Are the skills, training, or experience of a sworn officer required to fulfill the duties of the position?
3. Would assigning sworn staff be helpful for other reasons?
4. Can the requirements of the position be fulfilled by a specially trained civilian?

If the answer to the first three questions was “no” and the answer to the fourth question was “yes”, the position was recommended for civilianization.

Depending on the replacement civilians’ salaries, the City could save an estimated 16 to 41 percent per position through civilianization (or $6.4 million to $16.6 million annually). Even if the replacement civilians were to receive the same salary as the sworn officers they replace, the City would achieve savings due to both the more generous fringe benefits that sworn officers receive, as well as the non-salary compensation provided to sworn officers.

“All told, the City spends nearly $1.8 billion on CPD operations, healthcare, and pension costs,” said Ferguson. “And few duties are as important to the City as providing public safety for its residents. Because of the importance of those duties, it is imperative that they be subject to scrutiny.”